Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Spring Training in about three weeks but a slow offseason means there are still plenty of free agents out there. MLBTR already took a look at the catchers, shortstops, center fielders and first basemen still available and will now take a look at some notable third basemen.
- Matt Chapman: One of the best defensive third basemen in the league, Chapman leads the league in Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating since the start of 2017. In terms of Outs Above Average, he’s second, trailing only Nolan Arenado. Offensively, he’s strikeout prone but takes his walks and hits home runs. His 2023 season ended up a bit below his previous work, though that may have been caused by a late-season finger injury. His 17 home runs were his first time below 24 in a full season. Chapman’s .240/.330/.424 batting line and 110 wRC+ were a bit lower than his career pace, but through August 13, when he hurt his finger in a weight room incident, he had 15 homers and was sitting on a line of .255/.346/.449 with a 121 wRC+. A down year by his standards, he still produced 3.5 fWAR, his lowest in a full season. He’s had interest from plenty of clubs this offseason but remains unattached as Spring Training nears. Chapman turned down a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, thus tying him to draft pick compensation.
- Gio Urshela: Going back to his 2019 breakout with the Yankees, Urshela has hit .291/.335/.452 for a wRC+ of 115. He’s generally considered a sure-handed defender, though the advanced metrics are split on his work at the hot corner. Urshela has been credited with 10 Defensive Runs Saved and a grade of 13.5 from Ultimate Zone Rating in his career work at third, but Outs Above Average gives him a dreary -18. He’s coming off a rough platform season, as he hit just two home runs in his 62 games with the Angels and walked in only 4.4% of his plate appearances. His .299/.329/.374 batting line translated to a wRC+ of 92. He then suffered a season-ending pelvic fracture in June. Despite that rough year, he’s the best shot at an everyday third baseman apart from Chapman. There should be a huge difference in terms of their earning potential, which could make Urshela attractive to those who won’t come close to Chapman’s asking price.
- Justin Turner: He won’t be relied upon as an everyday option at the hot corner or any other position, but Turner can still hit and isn’t entirely limited to a designated hitter role just yet. With the Red Sox in 2023, he appeared in 41 games at first, 10 at second and seven at third base. The Dodgers gave him 66 starts at the hot corner in 2022 and 135 the year before that. He’s now 39 years old and his time in the field will likely keep dwindling, but the bat still plays. He hit 23 home runs last year and slashed .276/.345/.455 for a wRC+ of 114. A one-year deal seems likely.
- Evan Longoria: One year younger than Turner, Longoria still managed to head out to third base in 41 contests in 2023, with solid metrics for his work out there. Unfortunately, his work at the plate wasn’t as strong. He had never struck out in more than 24% of his plate appearances in any season of his career until 2022, when that number jumped to 27.9% and then to 30.8% in the most recent campaign. His .223/.295/.422 batting line translated to a wRC+ of 92 last year. But just the year prior, he hit .244/.315/.451 for the Giants, leading to a 116 wRC+. He won’t be considered an everyday option, having not played 90 games in a season since 2019.
- Josh Donaldson: Detractors might say Donaldson is washed, and there are 2023 stats they can point to, such as a .152 batting average. He also made multiple trips to the IL and only played 51 games on the year. But he hit 13 home runs in that limited action and drew walks at an 11.6% rate. His .115 batting average on balls in play wouldn’t be sustained over a longer stretch of playing time, particularly given his 92.1 mph average exit velocity and 51.3% hard-hit rate, so perhaps there’s still a potent bat in there if the baseball gods quit messing with him. His defensive grades at the hot corner have stayed strong, even as he’s now 38 years old. Donaldson said in November he’d like to play for one more year and go out on a high note rather than the down season through which he struggled in 2023. He should be available on an inexpensive one-year contract.